The reception for the Saw film series has always been mixed to negative but the idea of a Saw video-game published by Konami seems like a match made in heaven. Zombie Studios might have been responsible for the heavy-lifting and development work but Konami had a significant input in the games’ final outcome. In-fact, they wanted for Saw to be their next big horror franchise and considered it as a spiritual successor to their other survival horror series, Silent Hill. Saw: The Video-Game received mixed reviews from critics but it was enough to warrant a sequel, Saw 2: Flesh and Blood. Both were published on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, as well as on Microsoft Windows.
Popular consensus doesn’t support me but I absolutely believe Saw: The Video Game is a criminally underrated experience. I don’t think that it’s perfect by any means but I definitely think its worth the time of any fans of the film-franchise as well as gamers looking for a decent horror experience.
The game is a tie-in to the Saw film series, taking place sometime between the first and second films. In the story, The Jigsaw Killer has healed Detective David Tapp after his nearly fatal gunshot wound, and has put him into an insane asylum to participate in one of his ‘games’ meant to teach a lesson in the appreciation of life. The whole ordeal is obviously a lot more elaborate than anything we have seen in the films, and by that, I men there is the implementation of more in-depth puzzles and enemies. They had to make a video-game after all and he is forced to traverse through the asylum trying to find clues meant to catch Jigsaw. He has to help a lot of individuals along the way, ones with pass and current connections with him as well as individuals ordered to kill him.
The story-line is definitely appetizing, I was about to say it is a worthwhile plot for a video-game adaptation but I think I would have even liked to have seen a film about this. A means for exploration is there that feels more spacious than in the films and there isn’t a clouded story-line overbearing it.
The aspect of this entire experience that is the most enjoyable is definitely the atmosphere. The graphics themselves might be called dated but it feels like you are really in a hellhole created by Jigsaw. In-fact. I don’t think I have ever been as immersed and as taken by Saw as I was while playing this. The atmosphere and the environment definitely reach the quality that Konami established in Silent Hill, and I think some might even argue that from an atmospheric perspective, it is even more powerful than some of the later titles in the Silent Hill franchise. Everything goes hand-in-hand in this, and it’s collaborative efforts that manage to register such a decisive offering. The look and feel is there, depicting the world that James Wan started in 2003 with startling effect. But there’s also the voice-acting and the soundtrack that contributed in a lot of it.
The reason that it received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics is because the controls and game-play are particularly flawed. It isn’t even necessarily the game-play as you spend most of your time doing what you should do. That is, finding clues and solving puzzles that further you in the story’s progression, and while those moments do have the tendency to become repetitive, I don’t really know how that out as being a profound flaw with the experience. I do at least think that the puzzles are repetitive though. I enjoyed a lot of the puzzles but I won’t defend them all as being necessary or contributing to the positive side of things. I liked some of them but others were frustrating or more tedious than challenging. The puzzles themselves start to repeat themselves and with it being about the suspense and atmosphere, I think those moments can prove detrimental and harsh in their results.
I target the controls themselves as being awkward and unsatisfying to use. In general, they are a little wonkier than I would have liked but those aren’t completely awful. This description reins true when discussing the fighting mechanics, however, which I absolutely hate. I remember the collision detection as being one of the most frustrating and unacceptable aspects of them, but they were also completely unresponsive. That’s when something becomes really frustrating, when you’re failing not because your lack of capabilities but because of the game’s lack of polish.
All in all, Saw: The Video Game is enjoyable. I liked the novelty of it all but at the same time, there was enough depiction and innovation that went into design of the areas to keep a certain charm to it from the beginning to conclusion. At the same time, the controls and game-play will have you ripping at your hair at some occasions. If you can find a way to deal with them like I did, I think you’ll find a halfway decent experience that shines with moments of brilliance.